I am a 32 year old Floridian…who can’t swim. Or can’t swim well, anyway. People are always shocked to hear that, or criticize me or make fun of me for it. I know enough to not drown, but throw me in the deep end of a pool and chances are I’m going to be freaking out. Throw me into the water with a snorkel (something I love to do) and the first thirty seconds to a minute I panic…but then I’m fine because I have a mask and a breathing tube and flippers and a husband that won’t let me drown.
So why exactly did I sign up for the Trident next month, when it’s a 5k run, a 500 meter swim, and a 1500 meter paddle?
Simple. Because this time I am the one telling myself I can’t do it, and I have to prove myself wrong.
I swam yesterday for the first time…like really swam. 20 laps in the amenity center pool. Granted, I now know that I was doing it wrong, but still…I did it. I didn’t die. And then when Brian was helping me today, I broke down into tears twice. It scares me to put my face in the water without closing my nose up, and he was making me do it again and again and again. I tried. And he was getting frustrated. But I’m scared.
I got angry with myself because I am scared of something that’s kind of stupid. I’m in 3 feet of water and Brian isn’t going to let me drown so I just need to close my eyes, hold my breath and put my face in the water. Kids can do it. Hell, babies can do it. He just kept saying “When you are ready put your face in the water” and I would go to but jerk back in panic. He was getting annoyed, frustrated. But it’s scaring the living hell out of me, and it took me finally really starting to cry for Brian to realize that.
“This is (f bomb) stupid, and I know it is, but it scares the hell out of me,” I said. “This isn’t (f bomb) easy for me.” He took the time to calm me down, and then helped me figure it out.
He told me to do it for one second. “Count one, one thousand,” he said. Shaking and practically crying again, I nodded and took a few nervous breaths then did it. When I came back up, I kept my eyes closed and my breathing was still a wreck from being scared…but I did it. “Do it again, for two seconds now,” he said. And I did.
I can’t say that it was confidence coming back, because it wasn’t. But succeeding in being able to go under water for 5 seconds without plugging my nose calmed me down enough to let him man-handle me into positions to figure out how my body is supposed to go. He held me to the side to show me the side stroke and even let me lean on his back to show me what the paddle would be like (which is so not gonna be a problem)
He held my hips and my ribs and showed me how my legs were supposed to go. Then he held me to show me how my arms were supposed to move. Then he carried me to the deep end and held me as I panicked because I knew for sure I was going to not make it. He was calm when the water got into my left ear and caused pain. (We think it’s left over from the infection…it would pop quite painfully, and still does) He watched me as I tried to do the side stroke in the shallow end, and gave me advice on how to try and correct it, but also said I needed to get with Kat because he doesn’t have boobs to worry about and wasn’t sure if I was doing it right. He was really good. and didn’t stop me when I tried to get away from him because of panic.
Then he held me as I cried and freaked out thinking that I couldn’t do this. But he thinks I can. And Kat thinks I can. Me? I don’t know if I can.
“The hardest part for you is going to be the swimming,” he said. I just hope that in a months time I can get it down enough to be able to do it without panicking.
My shopping list consists of goggles and ear plugs. I need to plug my left ear to do this, and I need goggles to see. But I’m not allowed to buy a nose plug. I need to learn how to swim without it, and not just because of the race. I need to do it so I can be a swimming Floridian. I’m supposed to do swim work 3x a week, but I might do more just so I can get used to putting my face in the water and being comfortable with it.
I know how to run, and can do that. It’s easy for me and it’s something I enjoy. I’m confident about my running. But this swimming thing is going to have a lot of hard work to it, and a lot of tears, and I’m hoping that by the end of it…I at least know how to swim a little bit better than knowing how not to drown.